Suicidal Tendencies / Infectious Grooves
Reviewed on this page:
Suicidal Tendencies -
Sarsippius' Ark - Groove Family Cyco -
Suicidal Tendencies (1983)
No, punk rockers who can play their instruments is not a
contradiction in terms. Drummer Amery Smith and bassist Louiche Mayorga are solid, even (dare I say it?) professional, while guitarist
Grant Estes is equally at home laying down a tasty
rhythm line or spinning out a Van Halenesque solo. But make
no mistake: once you hear Mike Muir's angry, contemptuous,
frequently confused vocals, you'll never take them for a
mainstream rock band. They also use the one-minute tunes and abrupt
stops and starts that are hardcore trademarks, although their
technical facility enables them to use these devices to greater
effect than I've previously heard. The well-known song is the teen
rebellion anthem "Institutionalized" which many people burned out
on when it first came out, but I still consider one of the greatest
recordings of the decade: very serious and utterly hilarious at the
same time, with a clever, insistent riff underlying Muir's stream
of consciousness storytelling. The rest of the album often wallows
in repetitive nihilism and self-hatred, but Muir has some
interesting things to say ("Won't Fall In Love Today") and the band
is lots of fun ("I Saw Your Mommy..."). Estes and Smith's first and last hurrah.
Join The Army (1987)
Mike's vocals haven't changed much, but everything else has: ST now sounds like a hair metal band - relying on Rocky George's twiddling solos (title track) and AC/DC by way of Mötley Crüe blues-rock progressions ("A Little Each Day") - trying to play thrash ("Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right," a rewrite of "Seek And Destroy"). There are a few solid tunes exploring Muir's usual lyrical concerns ("War Inside My Head") and a couple of hardcore numbers ("Human Guinea Pig").
Produced by Lester Claypool (not Les Claypool).
How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today (1988)
Even farther into mainstream metal territory ("Hearing Voices"), courtesy of new rhythm guitarist Mike Clark, who co-wrote most of the tunes; Bob Heathcote also replaced Mayorga on bass. Within those parameters it's fine; the fist-pumping anthem "Pledge Your Allegiance" is a highlight, and the closer "The Feeling's Back" is similar.
Muir stays on topic as usual ("Trip To The Brain"... yes, he rhymes it with "insane").
Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit... Déjà Vu (1989)
A compilation of two EPs. The first appearance of new bassist Robert Trujillo (credited as "Stymee").
Lights... Camera... Revolution! (1990)
The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move...It's the Infectious Grooves (Infectious Grooves: 1991)
A funk-metal side project:
frontman Mike Muir and bassist Robert Trujillo (who co-wrote all the tunes) and rhythm guitarist Dean Pleasants joined up later,
so only lead guitarist Adam Siegel and drummer Stephen Perkins were true outsiders. (DBW)
Art Of Rebellion (1992)
Still Cyco After All These Years (1993)
Sarsippius' Ark (Infectious Grooves: 1993)
ST drummer Josh Freese temporarily replaced Perkins (though everyone's temporary in all of Muir's bands)
I get the feeling that the sole impetus behind the group was that Trujillo wanted to show off his formidable funk bass skills,
because Muir doesn't have much to say ("Don't Stop, Spread The Jam!") and there's no real metal influence, just lots of guitar distortion ("Turtle Wax").
As a result, the sound is VERY close to the Red Hot Chili Peppers ("These Freaks Are Here To Party"), except that the recording quality is sketchy ("Infectious Grooves," cut to 8-track by an earlier lineup). There are two covers, and I don't know which is more damning: that they can't find anything interesting to do with "Immigrant Song,"
or that the straight-up take on "Fame" is the album's highlight.
Almost forgot to mention: nearly every track is prefaced by a longwinded, unfunny introduction by "Sarsippius," who sounds suspiciously like the Funky Granny, only far less entertaining ("Legend In His Own Mind (Ladies Love 'Sip)").
Suicidal For Life (1994)
Groove Family Cyco (Infectious Grooves: 1994)
If you're curious about the band, make sure you start here. The same basic approach as the previous disc, but it works eight million times better. First of all, most of the silliness is gone: no Sarsippius interludes, no lo-fi home recordings. The metal elements are baked-in, not pasted on, from the blastoff "Violent & Funky."
Trujillo's bass is as far-forward as ever, but this time there's something for him to play off of ("Boom Boom Boom").
Muir finds some content to sink his teeth into, with a loose concept about a family of lunatics (title track; the ultra-creepy, strangely affectionate spoken-word "Cousin Randy," which is almost in Les Claypool territory).
And the capper is a hilarious slap at/parody of Rage Against The Machine, "Do What I Tell Ya!"
Produced by Michael Vail Blum.
Lost My Brain! (Once Again) (Cyco Miko: 1996)
Six The Hard Way (1998)
A six-song EP.
A return to hardcore punk.
Free Your Soul And Save My Mind (2000)
Más Borracho (Infectious Grooves: 2000)
Schizophrenic Born Again Problem Child (Cyco Miko: 2001)
Do what we tell ya.